June 03, 2006


Red in Tooth

Forgive me, friends, if this post is longer and more disturbing than my usual fare. I've wrestled with how - or indeed whether - to write this, and what images to post with it. So, let me just warn that you might need a stout heart to read the rest of this.

I'm going to describe what happened several weeks ago when Molly and I went for a stroll around the glorified retention pond where I've been going to swim and exercise since I was a pup. I should mention that we've never viewed this as a risk-free place. Once in a while, we've seen a small gator in the lake, but because there's no cover for gators in this area, they usually move quickly into other larger local lakes. Nonetheless, we try to keep a close lookout for them, especially during mating season when they start to migrate and become extra active.

On this particular afternoon, Molly thought she saw some bumps in the middle of the lake and trained her telephoto lens onto them. Sure enough, it turned out to be a two-to-three foot gator, maybe seeking a mate or maybe just trying to stay out of harm's way amid the many reptilian jousts that occur this time of year.

Once Molly had recognized it as a gator, she started worrying about a couple of dogs who were swimming on the other side of the lake. I should clarify that this lake isn't a dog park. It's just a place where people come to fish and amble and sometimes walk their dogs. The few dogs who go there generally know each other. In this case, however, Molly didn't know these dogs or the man they were with. So, instead of walking all the way over to them, she began shouting from around a bend in the lake, telling the man that there was a gator in the lake.

But it turns out that she caught the attention of the two swimming dogs, not just the man. And the dogs did what Molly never expected: they charged toward us from maybe 90 yards away, dragging two wet leashes behind them. Now, dogs sometimes know things humans don't. Molly tried to call me away, but I could easily tell there was no getting away from these two charging pit bulls (or, to be more specific, what we think were American pit bull terriers). Sometimes turning your back on a charging dog is the most dangerous thing you can do, and we dogs instinctivly know this. But I didn't assume a fighting or dominant pose, only braced myself for an attack that I could see was inevitable.

Even as the larger of the two dogs attacked me, the smaller one went after Molly, who tried to fend it off with her camera and lens. There was nothing she could do for me and little I could do for myself except try to keep the big pit away from my throat. The dog sunk his teeth deep into my left shoulder and clung with all the strength and ferocity for which the breed is known. I crumpled onto the ground even as the pitbull owner ran toward us. At the same time, another man drove toward us in a Go Kart as Molly screamed.

The pitbull owner worked to pry his dog off me as the other man in the Go Kart went to his truck for a large stick that he used for pummeling the pit pull. After what seemed an excruciatingly long time (to me, at least) the two men managed to force off the pit. But the moment he could, the owner of the pits ran away with his two dogs, calling over his shoulder to Molly, "You're dog's fine. You're dog's fine." Molly was weeping and saying it wasn't true. But the man never came back to find out. He got his dogs in his car and squealed his tires getting out of the parking lot before anyone could get a license plate number.

As for me, I wasn't feeling my best, but I was still ready to continue my walk and get a swim. We Labs, after all, can shake off almost anything if there's a swim and a walk involved (and a treat afterwards, of course).

But humans aren't quite as resilient. Molly was badly shaken, although - amazingly - unbitten. She thanked the man with the Go Kart, who helped save my life, and then called Mike on her cell phone. Somehow, Mike got there very quickly, Molly still crying when he arrived. Even as he held her, I decided to go for my dip in the lake, gator or no gator, before they called me back.

Mike tried to inspect me for wounds but my thick, wet fur made it too difficult. They got me home and Mike discovered multiple puncture wounds as he showered me off. That's when Mike decided that we needed to go the Emergency Animal Clinic. I'll spare you those details, but let's it wasn't much fun for me. They wound up shaving and stitching and drugging me. It took me a long time before I could stagger out of the recovery room. As it turns out, even Labs have a hard time maintaining their resiliency when people are shooting them full of pharmaceuticals.

Well, this is a bit long already, so I'll reserve my thoughts on these events for a separate post. Let's just say that my 9th birthday was all the sweeter for having come through this all relatively intact, if not unscathed.

I am very sorry to hear, Hank. The fur will grow back, and I hope that the pain will lessen with time. Take care of yourself and Molly too.
I'm so sorry that happened to you guys! The same situation almost happend with my two dogs but thankfully it was just a puppy sniffing about. Hopefully you'll feel better! I wish the best for you and Molly!
Well I've got tears in my eyes...I am so damned mad! Poor gentle Hank.

Why is it that irresponsible dog owners and pit bulls (or like breeds) seem to go hand in leash?

Irresponsible Yorkie owners would be one thing, but the potential damage a pit bull can do is frightening.

I'm glad Molly wasn't hurt, I'm infuriated that even though Hank was obviously injured the bastard ran off before you could identify him.
Hank! I am so glad that you are okay. I'm so mad for you. You are such a sweet dog, and those meanies just came running after you.

The chihuahuas and I are so genuinely glad you are okay!
I have long believed that pit bulls should be illegal. I think they are in some places.
St Francis of Assisi was working overtime that day. I've been attacked before (by a pit in a gated dog park) and know I wouldn't wish the experience on another dog or human. Sorry it happened to you and your Molly. Now you have scars that you can show off to the female dogs during doggie keggers! -- endo
Hi Hank,
What a horrible thing to have happened to you - I hope you have a speedy recovery, and I am sending all my good doggie wishes your way.
Would you mind if I added you to our list of master dog-bloggers over at www.dogswithblogs.com.au ? We would love to have you there.
Please let me know if that is okay.
Lots of love,
We're especially glad Molly is OK and of course you Hank. To bad the guy in the golf cart didn't get a couple of swings at the dogs' owner while he was at it. Bad people have bad pets :-(
It seems that you might be able to find out who the owner is by contacting some local vets. If one of the dogs was injured by being hit with the stick if may have needed some attention itself. Just a thought.
I just have to say a few words about pitts here -

back in the 20s and 30s, they were the most popular breed in america - especially with families. pitts were noted to have high tolerance for pain and extraordinary amount of patience - making them perfect to have with children. they were also protective of the family - though not vicious nor rougue-like in behavior.

the pitt that attacked hank is clearly a mishandled dog - meaning - it's not the breed, but the specific dog that has not been properly treated or trained - lay the blame at the door of the irresponsible owner, not the dog or the breed.

statistically, more attacks are perpeptuated by shepherds than pitts - but shepherds are not generally perceived as rogue dogs.

i'm not sure how it came about that pitts became a rogue breed - favored by criminal types and irresponsible doofuses, and then mistreated or trained to be vicious. but you mistreat any four-foot long enough and you'll end up with a rogue animal.

pitts, like any four-foot, need loving homes - like the one hank has - and loving two-foots (like the ones hank has) to care for them and provide them with love, training, discipline, lots of walks, toys and treats.

i have a pitt friend - ginger - who is as sweet as can be. she would never attack hank or any other creature. she comes from a loving home with responsible two-foots.

hope you're doing better hank.
All I can say is :-(
Bird, I know someone who rescues Pitts and places them with super loving and caring people. Still, she warns that she wouldn't put one with a family with children or small pets because of the abuse they've experienced and the selective breeding ( aggressive pups with aggressive pups etc.)making them unstable in times of stress.

Such a shame that any animal would have to live down the reputation they have due to irresponsible and down right mean people who have no love for animals or they'd never do that to the breed.

A special thanks to her and others who take these dogs into their homes and retrain them with love and gentleness.
Ohhhh Hank and Molly Iam so sorry to hear that,We are so glad to hear you are going to be ok,Take care.
Poor Hank! Poor Molly! What a truly awful experience made even worse by a completely irresponsible dog owner. How I would like to sink my teeth in him!! Jerk. I'm glad neither of you were badly hurt, just wish the pit bull owner hadn't gotten away. Wishing you a speedy recovery with extra treats.
Sweet Hank, Thank God you are all right. that whole scenario could have ended up even more badly for you and Molly. That pit owner is a bad person for running off like that. I love all dogs, even those pits, but people make them mean sometimes and unpredictable. Your are brave and you kiss your mama and reassure her that it's all okay.
That's terrible!! I'm glad you're both ok!
Hi Hank,

I hope your feeling better. Your story was very sad, and upset me a lot to read. I wish you all the happiness and joy, and hugs and bones in the world. Those dogs are just jealous because retrievers are THE BEST!!!

Im gonna send you my best wishes now - so get ready:




I dont know much HTML, but my human assures me you will be ok from now on!

Lots of Love

Oh, Hank -- nothing makes me angrier than this! Lomax and I will keep you in our prayers for a speedy recovery full of extra love and treats, and for justice to be done where that irresponsible man is concerned.

We love you and hope you feel better with each passing hour.
oh Hank yeesh I am so sorry that you were hurt. I can imagine the panic that your mom was feeling... its a hard thing to watch our best friends getting attacked... we feel a bit helpless and scared because we understand what could have happened.

I hope that you are feeling better and that your mom is feeling better.
Aw hank sorry to hear that,
woofwoof is right it'll
grow back.Hope you had a
great birthday.
Oh no!! That boogelly human should be arrested. Poor Hank, we are so glad you are OK. It made our human all teary to read of your horrid experience. We are glad you are on the mend now. Poor Molly and Mike, we hope your humans are OK too, they are very emotional beings, aren't they? We send you some wags, wiggly gently play romps and some licks.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery - and for Molly too. Humans can get more upset about things like this than dogs.

I am so glad that you finally decided to share this harrowing story with your friends (readers).

Daisy sends you a woof-woof too.

Lorrie :)
How are you healing Hank? Hope you are much better and back to tail wagging days.
Gee whiz Hank ol boy! Whatta harrowing encounter! We sure feel bad for ya but proud of you too, for your spunk, your resiliency & standing your ground. We're sending ya lotsa cyber hugs and hope you & your beloved human recover really quickly!
Yours truly...
Kirby & Kody
=^..^= =^..^=
Oh my poor Hank! How awful! I'm just glad that they were able to get the Pit bull off of you and that Molly was not hurt, but I wish you hadn't been hurt either!

I wish that man would learn to control his dogs. It was terribly wrong of him to run away! Awful man! Obviously he has no idea how to train or socialize a dog!

Hugs and kisses,

glad you are okay! you are a good looking dog!

pittbulls arent mean it's people that makes a dog mean it's not entirely the breed of dogs any dog could be mean if you make it I know I raise pitbulls you dumbasses!


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